Former Strictly winner Karen Hardy talks about the fans getting a chance to dance in Blackpool and her favourites to take the competition’s crown!

You’re heading up to Blackpool this weekend to teach Strictly fans how to dance. How did that come about?
“So many people are hooked on Strictly – they either want to have a go, feel that they’re a part of the show or have a go at dancing. So BBC learning have done this so that the public can feel like they’re getting the Strictly touch! Hopefully the people who have been lucky enough to be chosen – because the BBC has been absolutely inundated by the fans – will get a chance to learn to dance with me and maybe some of the Strictly stars if they manage to pop over from the Tower ballroom. It’s going to be fantastic – it’s going to be very exciting!”

And are you excited about the show going up to Blackpool?
“To our world Blackpool is Mecca – thousands make the pilgrimage to it every year in May for the British dance festival! It has one of the biggest ballrooms in England, it’s got the history of dancing – it’s not only the celebrity glamour, it’s got the history of dance in it – it’s brilliant, it’s two worlds colliding. It’s also a very special place for the professional dancers. It’s the place we love to go to be able to dance.

“It’s quite random because you’ve got all the glamour, the sequins, the make up, the frocks and then it’s in Blackpool where you’ve got hen parties and God knows what else going on! All the celebrities that I’ve spoken to who have been there in the past have said, ‘Oh my God, it’s amazing!’ The floor is a lot bigger, you’ve got a lot more people in the audience – it’s just incredible!”

So which couple do you think will be your favourite this weekend?
“Natalie Cassidy’s jive with Vincent Simone was absolutely brilliant last week! She genuinely loved the show and what she was doing and the world of dancing asks for more – you need people who come out and say, ‘Oh my God, I’m absolutely loving this!’ She’s coming out and she’s done so well!

“We’re guaranteed to get a good performance from Ricky Whittle. Someone I’d like to see do well is Ricky Groves, I’d like him to be in it for a while. He is somebody where you can see the amount of work he’s putting in.

“The one I’ve been picking on, Craig Kelly, is doing much better! Strictly is all about the journey and the improvements that they make. With Ricky Whittle coming out high at the top at the start – it’s going to be pretty tough to keep on impressing the public each week. Whereas, what I can see with Craig is he’s changed. He was terrible, he was absolutely awful, but last week he just looked great.”

So many fans were surprised last week when Zoe Lucker was the celebrity to leave the show. Do you think it could be another shock exit this weekend?
“I think this will be the first series ever where we will have shocks all the way to the finish line because there isn’t really anyone left now that isn’t a contender really. I think you’ll find that the nation is really divided now. I think it’s going to be the first Strictly ever where you won’t be able to guess who will be in the bottom two each week. For Craig not to have been down there for three weeks, for Zoe to have gone out, for Ali to be in the bottom two – Ali should be one of the ones in the final!”

Karen has just launched a state-of-the-art dance studio in the heart of Chelsea. To find out more about expert tuition for all levels, visit Karen’s website

karen studios

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